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East Lancs police officer who tasered blind pensioner can keep job
A POLICE officer who tasered a blind pensioner after he mistook his white stick for a samurai sword can keep his job, a hearing has decided.
The officer faced a gross incompetence hearing after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission looking into why Colin Farmer, 64, was targeted by police while he walked to a pub in Chorley town centre.
The officer faced a disciplinary hearing by a panel made up of Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques, Chief Superintendent Richard Goodenough-Bayly and Ashley Judd, the force’s head of human resources.
The panel found the officer failed to perform his duties to a satisfactory standard on October 12, 2012, though his actions did not amount to gross incompetence.
ACC Jacques said: “I would like to sincerely apologise to Mr Farmer for what happened and the resulting distress and anxiety he suffered.
“The officer made a dreadful mistake when he discharged his Taser, but was acting on a reasonable and honestly held belief that his actions were necessary to protect the public.
“The officer did not perform his duties to a satisfactory standard but we did not feel this amounted to gross incompetence.
“This investigation has raised a number of issues for the constabulary to consider, including the training given to officers carrying a Taser.”
Mr Farmer, who prior to the incident had suffered two strokes, was invited to the hearing but declined, fearing reliving his ordeal would not be good for him.
He said: “I don’t feel I’ve had any justice. It doesn’t bother me what they do to the officer, as I know I didn’t do anything wrong.
“I do welcome the fact it gave the police the chance to consider how this type of thing can be avoided in future but that man will just have to live with his conscience.”
At the time of the incident police were responding to reports of a man with a sword in the town centre.
Mr Farmer was Tasered at point blank range, making him fall.
Mr Farmer also revealed that in the past month he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The officer will be issued with an improvement notice and must demonstrate specific performance improvements over a set timescale.
Arrangements will be made for the officer to offer a personal apology to Mr Farmer.
Mr Farmer added that civil proceedings against the force for compensation were ongoing.
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